Monthly Archives: October 2011
Since I’ve been deeply involved with Vocal Toning for over ten years, I’m always surprised when people ask me, “What is vocal toning?” I forget it’s still a relatively unknown thing for 90% of the population even though, as I always say, “We were born toning!” Defining it is never easy. Truth be told, until you actually DO it and experience it, it seems kind of perplexing. How can sitting around singing vowel sounds and making strange noises be helpful?
What is Vocal Toning?
The kind of toning we’re talking about here isn’t about lifting weights or physical exercise. It isn’t about losing fat or inches around your waist or acquiring better definition to those biceps. Neither is it about singing “prettily” and on pitch. It isn’t about performing or working through stage fright either. Vocal Toning is not a religious or New Age practice. Nor is it about “one right way.”
Vocal Toning, simply defined, is singing a vowel sound or syllable for the length of an exhalation. For example, most people are at least somewhat familiar with the idea of chanting OM. By repeating it over and over again, our whole body pulses with the vibration of OM. We breathe more deeply. We relax. Although some people have the mistaken conception that toning is all about the OM, vocal toning is really so much more.
Vocal Toning can include sounds of release like moaning or groaning. It can also include any vowel or combination of letters or sounds we’re capable of producing. It’s really about freedom of self-expression, spontaneity, and being in the flow. As such, it has the potential to become a very deep meditative practice for those wanting to take it to that level. But it can also be very entertaining.
How Can Toning Be Helpful?
When we are children, we laugh, we cry, we even scream without apologies. It comes naturally to us to give voice to our toy cars and dolls. Do we grow out of it? Yes and no. The impulse is still there; we’ve just trained it into some warped socially appropriate submission. Vocal Toning is about reclaiming our natural, playful expression. It’s also about aligning through sound…using sound to come into harmony with all the different parts of ourselves.
As a form of singing, toning has all the same proven benefits of singing. It increases our oxygen intake, uplifts our mood, enhances immunity, and enriches our blood. It can assist with pain management, tones the face and diaphragm (the other meaning of toning), fully grounds us in our bodies, and helps us think and create. It wakes us up and keeps our voice flexible and smooth.
Vocal Toning also has spiritual benefits. It teaches us how to listen more deeply, how to work with dissonance in our lives, and how to trust ourselves and others. It can help us remember who we are, opening us to experience the Mystery of Life more deeply. How does it do that? The only way to know the answer to that, dear reader, is to try it for yourself!
What’s your definition of Vocal Toning? I’d love to hear from you or answer any questions you have.
A theme in The Unknown Mother is something called Nada Yoga. Nada Yoga is the yoga of sound. Sound being vibration, and all of life being vibration, one could say that Nada Yoga is the yoga of Life. It is a natural path for the musically inclined, deep listeners, and those who are comfortable with mystery.
Whereas the traditional scientist considers the world to made up for atoms and molecules, the Nada yogi considers sound to contain the building blocks of all that is. For that reason, sound is held as sacred and as a path to healing and enlightenment.
There are various levels of sound to which one can become attuned. There is the outermost or gross level of sound…the sounds we hear daily in our environment. There is also a mid-level of sound that is contained within us, our “inner music”. And finally, there is the subtlest level of sound, the sounds beyond sound, so to speak. This is the Great Sound that penetrates through everyone and everything, unifying the whole, the music of all creation. One can get a sense of listening in a new way by practicing this meditation for opening the ear chakras.
The thing about Nada yoga is that is has to be experienced individually. Talking about it, intellectualized reading about it, and especially thinking about…they will never give you a taste of it. Through fiction and the vibration of letters and words, The Unknown Mother allows the reader to first, share in the experience of a relate-able main character, and second, inspires the reader to engage in the simple practices herself. The book will be published in 2012.
The beautiful lotus flower is a popular symbol these days thanks to the influence of Eastern thought and practice all over the world. It is a common icon used in advertising for all things yoga-, enlightenment-, and spirituality-related. But what exactly does the lotus represent?
The lotus flower arises out of the mud and muck, untouched and spotless, its roots running deep into the rich, black soup beneath it. Its many petaled bloom opens wide radiating with the feminine quality of openness. Sometimes represented as a bud, sometimes in full bloom, sometimes with leaves, in an array of colors ranging from white to pink to blue to purple. Each chakra or energy center of the body is associated with a different color lotus in various stages of development (see here for a lovely depiction). The lotus is often depicted as the throne of various deities, such as Lakshmi, indicating divine birth. The lotus is said to be the door to the womb of the universe. Therefore, it is a symbol for new life.
The lotus is like our pure heart. When we develop within ourselves such qualities as compassion, equanimity, love,and joy our heart opens and blossoms like the multi-petaled lotus. As such, it represent spiritual perfection and victory. Pretty cool!
Did you know that “Abracadabra” comes from the Aramaic…” abraq ad babra”, which literally translates to “I will create as I speak”? The message of The Unknown Mother is to reawaken people to this truth and to that which we habitually take for granted…the power of the voice. When we bring our awareness to our voice and learn to express it in new ways, with impeccability, we rediscover our true message. Voice is the key to unlocking our power and magnificence. This is about allowing and accepting your magical self.
This project is really about my life’s work. The Unknown Mother is a book based on my years of experiences along the Sacred Sound and Toltec paths as it reveals some of the principles behind these wisdom traditions. I like to call it a work of truth disguised as fiction and a work of fiction masquerading as truth. As such, it is both an engaging story and a manual for creating through vocal expression. It’s a book for sound lovers, voice lovers, lovers of words, and lovers of life. In other words, it’s a book for Lovers.
The Unknown Mother is currently seeking a publisher.